April 29, 2009
My mother’s yearning for spirituality in her life was equalled only by her fear of it. Astrology was probably the most regularly embraced mysticism in the home I grew up in. There is a part of me that can really jive with the idea that our bodies are somehow influenced by the magnetism of other planets. And there is a part of me that considers it to be complete baloney. My mom tried to pretend she thought it was baloney, but justified her neurosis too often for that to be completely genuine. “What can you expect when a Pisces and a Virgo live together?” was not an uncommon response to our differences. Her inability to embrace reality and my constant exasperation with her because of it might have been a more authentic accounting of our non-simpatico encounters than my piscean nature.
But, whatever. The point is aside from books on personality matrixes and other planets, there wasn’t a lot of spiritual grounding in my upbringing. Sunday mornings were housecleaning day. God rested, we worked. And I craved spiritual input like a thirsty daughter in the desert. As an 8 year old visiting my uncle’s baptist church I almost raced to the front when they called us in for salvation. I begged friends and family to take me to their churches– catholic, protestant, jehovah’s witness– my early exposure was all over the christian map. It doesn’t really surprise me that when I finally had the chance to be part of a religious community, I bought in 100%.
My feelings about life were so big they often felt like they would push my skin off my bones. God was about the only thing I could imagine that would release that pressure. And the problems of the world seemed unsolvable. Fear. Greed. Hate. Wars. I read the paper as a young teen and I felt so overwhelmed by all the horror. It seemed like we needed a god to get things fixed up. I want to judge myself– lazy– but I really can’t because I remember how much I wanted the world to be better than it was. And I didn’t believe in my power to change anything.
April 28, 2009
I joined the mormon church when I was 13, kind of. My parents were mormon when I was born. My dad had been raised in the church, kind of. I think his stories about sitting in the car at different country bars in other towns so grandpa could drink without anyone in town knowing, points to a less-than-stellar devotion to the church. Anyhow, my mom joined the church when they were dating or married because some of his friends told her about it. And then, being my mom, she expected him to show her the way. I think what she really wanted was a top, not a husband.
So, she threw herself into a patriarchal church to satisfy her needs for domination and then demanded that my father fulfill his role as head of household. His post-vietnam-hippie attitude didn’t combine well with spiritual mormon patriarch. He tried. He failed. One week they couldn’t watch tv because it broke the sabbath, next weekend they’d be out drinking beer with their friends. My mom blamed the church for their divorce. I blame them and their clearly incompatible personalities.
She left when I was two, relocated to the East where her family lived and continued to take me to church until I was 6. From 6-13, I was mormon when I visited dad and hippie agnostic the rest of the year. My sister was extremely concerned I would end up in hell (outerdarkness in mormon terms) but I wasn’t really concerned. Until I skipped church in an act of defiance and had my purse stolen. Never mind the weird logic that god would have someone break a commandment to get me to do the right thing, it seemed clear in my 13 year old mind. I signed up, almost immediately, and began an 11 year journey as one of the faithful.